Photo of the Week
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2013-07-15 15:09:37
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    [post_content] => The ground was moist from the newly fallen rain. We all took our time and carefully sought out the route that would lead us all to safety. But that was only some of us. It all began when my feet started to move without my command, and before I knew it the mud had layered my left pantleg all the way up to my hip. It all happened so fast, and after that fall i just couldnt seem to stay on my feet. The whole way down that slippery slope, I would hear people burst out in laughter at how one of my feet would start to slip. All of a sudden I would end up in a split. These two local girls, that couldnt have been more than ten, had followed me all the way down the mud slide in amusement. When I reached the bottom, I ran to the nearest water source and tried as best as I could to wash the mud, clay, and poop off of my entire body. It was the best time of my life.
    [post_title] => The Fall
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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The Fall

Eva Vanek,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

The ground was moist from the newly fallen rain. We all took our time and carefully sought out the route that would lead us all to safety. But that was only some of us. It all began when my feet started to move without my command, and before I knew it the mud had layered […]

Posted On

07/15/13

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-12 09:48:29
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    [post_content] => familias y amigos de Guatemala SEIS,

Let me start by saying that we miss you all and carry you with us on our journey!  It's truly been a journey...a journey that begins in the morning and vaguely ends with the subtlety of each sunset-a coda somewhere over a verdant ridge line.  You see, the salutation of each dawn sets a tempo of spirited movements and accented notions about town.  I would like to meet the individual who is truly earliest to rise and be about their business each day in Todos Santos (Although they make their presence widely known, I've a sneaking suspicion that it is someone other than a Rooster)  That individual is a remarkable gem in a bejeweled pattern.  There is truly so much potential in a day!  The amount of advantage that is taken of each moment in Todos Santos is admirable and instructive.  And yet, there is so little a sense of urgency.  Individuals rest calm in the scope of their daily accomplishments.  As a group, at the behest of our collective awe, we have been counting beats and falling into rhythm with the soul of this community's song.  In doing so, we have observed many examples to demonstrate the charming trajectory of each day's journey.  For instance....

It is true that minds make many colors and shapes about what they hear stirring in the early hours, but none of us were quite expecting to see the upending of an entire road of brick and mortar this morning!-the main thoroughfare about town, no less.  As we were to later observe, this was accomplished with nothing more than hands and community participation during the wee morning hours (4 am, more or less).  After investigating a bit around town, the group found out that the community had been granted money to receive a paved road.  However, the grant was limited in scope to the construction of the road, leaving the community with the balance of demolishing the road that presently exists.  It was decided that if community members were to share the burden of upending the road, the task would be accomplished briskly-and briskly it was, during a dimly lit early morning, with shovels, pick-mattocks and gloves.

This exemplary work ethic has a precedent, not to mention and underlying ethical code.  A few days ago, our Dragons division took a long morning walk into the mountains to an area that had been designated by the community for replanting.  There, we met an assembly of students and teachers who had hauled about 300 small trees to be planted in the area.  Each year, Todos Santos commits to a reforestation project, impressing on each subsequent generation of young students the importance of planting 3 trees for each tree utilized that year for firewood, one of the community's primary energy sources.  Team Dragones faithfully took on the task of digging holes for each student to fill with a tree sapling.  The young students carried with them so much enthusiasm that saplings seemed to be budding at their fingertips!  Such an infectious contagion of spritely smiles, to say the least.

This short jaunt into the mountains, with all its import, seemed to herald another walk we'll soon be taking that will broaden the space between us and Todos Santos, though the recollection of shared experiences and profound connections will reverberate in our hearts.  Although we lament the passing of one brave chapter, we carry on to the next with optimism AND  plenty of open space in the mountains for showers of reflection to settle upon us moderately like dew.  Though our fondness for Todos Santos be delicate, the strength in our core is enlivened at the notion of our next step...UP!

Farewell Todos Santos, thank you for a delightful peek at your glowing energy in the world,

Over the next 3 days, Guate Seis will be trekking towards the town of Nebaj, east of Todos Santos.  We will be spending nights in small communities along the way.  Once we reach Nebaj, we will be back in contact!

Warm regards y hasta pronto!
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each day, a journey

Sean,Best Notes From The Field, Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

familias y amigos de Guatemala SEIS, Let me start by saying that we miss you all and carry you with us on our journey!  It’s truly been a journey…a journey that begins in the morning and vaguely ends with the subtlety of each sunset-a coda somewhere over a verdant ridge line.  You see, the salutation […]

Posted On

07/12/13

Author

Sean

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    [post_content] => Greetings from Todos Santos!

It has been a full week since we first arrived to Todos Santos on a local "chicken bus". Since then we have been very busy with Spanish class, homestays and group lessons. We have learned about immigration through lessons and testimonies, gained insight into the Mayan cosmovision, talked with a local Mayan healer, learned about the political history of Guatemala, planted trees with local school children, hiked to the highest non-volcanic point in Central America, eaten lots of tortillas, and gotten to know each other better. We have been impressed with the thought and attention that the students have brought to lessons and group discussions. After over a week of living with families, many of the students have expressed sadness to leave those who have shared their home with them. All in all, the group is doing really well, and we feel great about our upcoming adventures on the trek in and in future communities.
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Update from Todos Santos

Instrcutors,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Greetings from Todos Santos! It has been a full week since we first arrived to Todos Santos on a local “chicken bus”. Since then we have been very busy with Spanish class, homestays and group lessons. We have learned about immigration through lessons and testimonies, gained insight into the Mayan cosmovision, talked with a local […]

Posted On

07/10/13

Author

Instrcutors

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    [post_content] => Anne Frank once said, "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." Although we have only been in Todos Santos, Guatemala for a short time, I have witnessed more beauty in this small community than I have ever seen while walking down a street in the United States.
At the end of our orientation at an organic farm called Nueva Alianza, we participated in a reflective ceremony, in which each one of us acquired a bead to carry to symbolize something we hope to gain on this trip. My bead carries my hope to discover a new awareness and gratitude for the beauty around me, whether it be here in Guatemala or back home in the States. I feel as though I, along with many of those around me, tend to get tied up in life's pitfalls, neglecting to step back and truly appreciate its intricate beauties.
As stated, I see beauty all around me in Todos Santos. As I walk down the colorful street to the corner market or hike up the steep hill to school, I can smile at anyone around and they will most definitely smile back. I gain a deep sense of gratitude and happiness knowing that although I may never want to eat a tortilla or experience a brutally cold shower again, I can always find beauty tucked away in even the darkest corners of life, whether it be in an encounter with some flea-riddled (yet ridiculously cute) kittens, or in a smile from a stranger.
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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Smiles for Miles

Emma Weitzhandler,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Anne Frank once said, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” Although we have only been in Todos Santos, Guatemala for a short time, I have witnessed more beauty in this small community than I have ever seen while walking down a street in the United States. At the end […]

Posted On

07/10/13

Author

Emma Weitzhandler

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    [post_content] => The Henderson Household. Eastmoreland. Portland. The Pacific  Northwest. America.

We all plunge into the produce section of our local grocery store, and reach blindly for anything labeled as "organic". We assume that this is the most most responsible course of action to take for both our bodies and the environment. While this much may be true, no one pauses to consider how those fruits, vegetbales, coffee, nuts, etc. get to the dinner table. I never did either, until an inspring story from a man named Javier revealed to me the sad truth of the organic produce trade.

Javier began by telling us the history of Nueva Alianza, the coffee and macademia farm at which we stayed for 5 days. The farm was initially owned by one rich man, and there were 40 families that worked for him under terrrible conditions. AS the owner began to mismanage his finances, the farm began to plummet towards bankruptcy. At this time, the 40 working families united to take control of the farm. After long negotiations with the bank, an agreement was made that allowed the 40 families to inherit the previous owner{s debt in order to maintain possession of the farm. However, Javier did not stop here. He went on to elaborate upon the current predictament they are facing at Nueva ALianza. This part of his story was truly inspiring and thought-provoking to say the least.

The farm and the community are losing money because they are being used by the large foreign distributors that buy Nueva Alianza's goods. Nueva Alianza is an organic coffee and macademia nut farm, and As some of you may know, there are far more expenses that come along with growing organic products compared to farming by spraying chemicals all over eveything. However it is expected by us in the United States that these extra costs are paid for by the extremely high prices of organic food that we see and pay in the US.  Unfortunately, this is very far from the truth.

This rural, mountainous community does not have the means to export their goods independently, so they must sell them to a distributor that can. However the distributors know this and take advantage of it by only buying Nueva Alianza's organic coffee and macademia for the price of normal, genetically-modified coffee and macademia nuts. Basically, the farmers are putting more money and effort into the product for the same amount of return as normal produce.

 

I think all 14 of us, students and instructors alike, came away from this testimony inspired to help and a bit saddend by the situation facing Nueva Alianza. It just doesnt seem fair that these people who welcomed us into their community with open arms, who showed us nothing but kindness, who cooked three meals a day for us, and who took the time to explain the intricacies of the organic coffee and macademia industries should have poverty imposed upon them like this, without any other options. 


Why do bad things happen to good people?

Unfortunately the situation of Nueva Alianza is not unique. Farms all around Central America and the world are being taken advantage of in a similar manner. The probelm is, these farmers simply have no leverage in any negotaion.

As Javier said himself, there is no clear way in which we can all help put an end to this unjust trade. The key is Awareness. 

 
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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A revelation regarding organic farming

Nate Currie,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

The Henderson Household. Eastmoreland. Portland. The Pacific  Northwest. America. We all plunge into the produce section of our local grocery store, and reach blindly for anything labeled as “organic”. We assume that this is the most most responsible course of action to take for both our bodies and the environment. While this much may be […]

Posted On

07/7/13

Author

Nate Currie

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    [post_content] => Greetings to all our yak followers!

It is hard to believe that it has been just over a week since we all came together in the airport to begin our journey to Guatemala. We spent the first 4 days at a cooperative farm called Nueva Alianza , located about 2 hours from Xela. Here we got to know each other and prepared ourselves for the upcoming trip. The significance of this setting as a starting point runs deep through the history of the land rights struggle that took place at Nueva Alianza.  Javier, who is one of the community leaders, was kind enough to share with us the history of the farm, which is one of many examples of land struggle in Guatemala; Laborers reclaiming land from a rich owner, working hard to produce organic products for export, and struggling when confronted with the fluctuating global market which controls them from afar. This is just one of many testimonies we will hear during our time in Guatemala.

A few days ago we took a long bus ride from Nueva Alianza to Todos Santos, where we have started Spanish class and homestays. Todos Santos is a small Mayan village located high in the Cuchumatanes mountains. The streets are filled with the bright colors of the traditional clothing people wear, and fruits and vegetables sold throughout the town. You can hear a mixture of Spanish and Mam (the local indigenous language) everywhere you go. Last night we heard a testimony from a man named Max about his journey as an undocumented worker to the United States. He spent seven years working in construction, and sending money back to his family.  He left Todos Santos due to various factors, which have contributed to increased poverty and lack of autonomy for rural Guatemalans. His journey and hard work in the US exhibit a level of risk and sacrifice that is hard to imagine for many of us. One of the main themes of our course this summer is perspective, and thinking about how the reality and experiences we come from paints the way we interpret the world around us. Thanks to individuals like Max and Javier, we are getting the unique opportunity to hear a different story, and get a glimpse of the world through a different lens.  With only a week under our belts, and five to go, we have many more adventures, and learning experiences ahead of us. We look forward to sharing them with you!
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Greetings from Guate

Instructors,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Greetings to all our yak followers! It is hard to believe that it has been just over a week since we all came together in the airport to begin our journey to Guatemala. We spent the first 4 days at a cooperative farm called Nueva Alianza , located about 2 hours from Xela. Here we […]

Posted On

07/7/13

Author

Instructors

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    [post_content] => The group were each assigned  a word and had to write what it meant to them and how they thought that it would relate to to this journey.  These values will be be present and a common theme throughout this trip.  We will try to find these values in our selves and try to embrace them through out.

Gratitude- This means to be thankful for everything that you have recieved in the past and will recieve in the future. A trip such as this really develops this skill, because it helps you realize how fortunate you are to live like you do

Responsibility: The ability to take charge of your actions in a healthy and safe way;

self reliance is the ability to depend upon yourself to get by. By the end of the trip we will all improve in this area

Curiosity: Demonstrating interest in the world around you by asking questions and participating in activities

Humililty: The aspect of being humble calls for the realization that everyone else is as equally important as you, your accomplishments aren't worth constant conversation, and all eyes do not need to be on you 24/7. Also, a person who is humble shares the quality of pulling people up rather than pulling them down

Ownership being able to admit your mistakes snd then take responsibility for your actions:

Courage is being afraid but doing it any way. I think that being being nervous or afraid of a future advent shows that you know whats coming and that you are more connected with yourself because you alow yourself to feel these emotions
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

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core values

Elena Sinagra,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

The group were each assigned  a word and had to write what it meant to them and how they thought that it would relate to to this journey.  These values will be be present and a common theme throughout this trip.  We will try to find these values in our selves and try to embrace […]

Posted On

07/5/13

Author

Elena Sinagra

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    [post_content] => Hola. This is Iris, Emma, Solange, and Morgan. We are currently in Todos Santos. We are doing a scavenger hunt! Adios.
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

View post

Todos Santos scavenger hunt

Iris, Emma, Solange, and Morgan,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Hola. This is Iris, Emma, Solange, and Morgan. We are currently in Todos Santos. We are doing a scavenger hunt! Adios.

Posted On

07/4/13

Author

Iris, Emma, Solange, and Morgan

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    [post_content] => Greetings from Guatemala!

we have just arrived in Todos Santos yesterday after a seven hour bus ride.  Todos Santos is a very charming village where the men wear traditional red and white striped pants.  The village is encompassed by green mountains.

Hasta Luego!
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

View post

Scavanger

Elena Bailey Hang ,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

Greetings from Guatemala! we have just arrived in Todos Santos yesterday after a seven hour bus ride.  Todos Santos is a very charming village where the men wear traditional red and white striped pants.  The village is encompassed by green mountains. Hasta Luego!

Posted On

07/4/13

Author

Elena Bailey Hang

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-04 12:40:10
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Guatemala Summer 6-week

View post

Nueva Alianza

Indigo Harris,Guatemala Summer 6-week

Description

While in Guatemala, we traveled to a farm called Nueva Alianza.  On the morning of our last full day, one of the local farmers told us the story of the farm´s history.  We were all touched by the current issues surrounding the finances of the farm and hotel.

Posted On

07/4/13

Author

Indigo Harris

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